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No questioning of Snowden in Germany for now, parliamentary panel says

A parliamentary committee has announced that bringing NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden to Germany for questioning is not yet on the cards. But the option of questioning him in Moscow is still open.

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Snowden questioning on ice

Speaking after a special meeting of the Parliamentary Control Panel on Wednesday, Chairman Thomas Oppermann said the body would not try to interrogate Snowden in Germany for the time being.

"A questioning in Germany is currently not being discussed," Oppermann said.

He said, however, that the panel would ask the German government to examine whether Snowden could be questioned in Russia.

Oppermann said it had first to be ensured that it would not cause "difficulties" for Snowden if the interrogation took place there.

The US whistleblower is currently residing in Moscow after being granted a year's asylum by Russia.

Interior Minister Hans-Peter Friedrich (pictured) said the German government would accede to the panel's request.

He also reiterated that Germany was not in a position to grant Snowden asylum.

The meeting was also attended by Gerhard Schindler, the head of Germany's BND intelligence service, and Hans-Georg Maassen, head of the Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution.

They reported to the panel on talks held in Washington over the past days with US intelligence officials, partly about a proposed mutual "no-spy" agreement.

'Restore lost trust'

Ronald Pofalla, the head of the chancellery, said the planned agreement offered "a unique chance to regain the trust that had been lost," adding that the German delegations in Washington had gained the impression that the White House had "fully recognized" the political dimension of the spying affair.

Germany has expressed outrage after allegations, based on documents leaked by Snowden, that the US National Security Agency had tapped Chancellor Angela Merkel's mobile phone.

Pofalla said US President Barack Obama intended to inform the German government in mid-December about the results of the review he has ordered of the intelligence services. He added that cooperation between Germany and the US was to be placed on a "new basis" as part of the "no-spy" agreement.

Oppermann demanded that the proposed agreement also offer protection against excessive surveillance to normal citizens, and not just the German government.

Green politician Hans-Christian Ströbele, who visited Snowden in Moscow last Thursday, once more called on Germany to grant the whistleblower asylum. The government has repeatedly rejected such calls, saying that such a move would endanger the trans-Atlantic alliance with the US.

Allegations of British spying activities targeting the government in Berlin were also discussed at the secret meeting.

tj/mkg (AFP, dpa)

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